Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Boldly Going Where I'd Never Gone Before

I am not a fan of any incarnation of the Star Trek franchise or particularly a big fan of J.J. Abrams. It's not that I have any strong dislike for either; I've just never been into them. So I was surprised as anyone when my wife gave me the choice of seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, or Terminator Salvation for a recent date night movie viewing, and I picked Star Trek.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was a lot like reading the Classic Transformers comics: I came to it armed with only the tangential familiarity of someone plugged into the larger pop culture vernacular but not necessarily the specific mythos of the franchise. I recognized throw-away lines like "Dammit, man! I'm a doctor…" and "I'm giving her all she's got…" and such. I have no idea if the Christopher Pike character is in any of the TV episodes or who the Romulans are or if Spock and Uhura are romantically linked in any previous incarnations, but I found all of it agreeable.

Casting was near-perfect. My only quibble with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk is his Christian Slater voice (I kept hearing JD from Heathers, and, hey... Winona connection!
), but he did fine with what he was given as far as acting. His character did spend a lot of time hanging off of ledges... off the edge of a canyon, off the edge of a table, off the edge of a giant drill suspended over a planet, off the edge of a Romulan catwalk, and on and on. Perhaps Abrams was trying to emphasize how "edgy" the character is.

I liked the role Leonard Nimoy played in the film, and I was thrilled William Shatner was nowhere to be found in the flick. That would have been disastrous. Shatner is a parody of his own career, and casting him in this movie would be the equivalent of working Adam West into a Christopher Nolan Batman flick: A bad idea.

Nearly everywhere Star Trek has been reviewed or commented on, high praise has been given to the plot device used to sidestep trampling on the long history of these specific characters, and I can't disagree with that. A nice conceit lifted from the alternate universe/timeline twists found in comic books, it felt familiar and went down easy. A lot like the movie itself.

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